NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist
Civil Eats focuses on the potentials of biochar in this article by Lisa Held.
Farming with this amendment isn’t a climate silver bullet, but it could make more soil a carbon sponge.
It should be a relatively easy sell, as a growing body of research suggests that biochar might just be the most versatile soil health tool available—and an important climate solution. Biochar particles are incredibly porous, creating nooks and crannies that hold onto excess nutrients, water, and microbes. Adding them to fields can reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff that pollutes waterways, help soil retain moisture in drought-stricken areas, and stimulate microbial activity. Most importantly, biochar is one of the most stable, long-lasting forms of carbon available. In the right conditions, it can last hundreds—and even thousands—of years, potentially holding on to significant amounts of carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.
The Tigercat 6050 Carbonator. (Photo courtesy of Tigercat)
“The evidence is very strong that it’s the best approach [to carbon sequestration],” said Chuck Hassebrook, head of the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) Biochar Policy Project. “But it’s not something we can turn around and do tomorrow at scale. We don’t have the biochar production facilities, and there are knowledge gaps that we need to fill.”